Rabid Skunk Found In Helmetta

MIDDLESEX COUNTY — The Middlesex County Office of Health Services is reporting that a skunk tested positive for rabies in the Borough of Helmetta, in the vicinity of John Street and Railroad Avenue.

This is the first rabid animal reported within Middlesex County for 2012 and the first rabid animal reported in the municipality of Helmetta.

On March 23, the Helmetta Animal Control Officer responded to a report that a resident’s dog got into a fight with a skunk and subsequently killed the animal. The skunk was sent to the New Jersey State Department of Health Laboratory for testing. It was reported on March 27 that the animal tested positive for rabies.

Two residents have been contacted and advised to speak to a physician regarding their possible exposure, since they tended to the dog after the event. The dog had a current rabies vaccination, will receive a booster vaccination, and will remain under the standard 45-day quarantine. Additionally, the Middlesex County Office of Health Services is distributing rabies advisory flyers and fact sheets in the area.

The Middlesex County Office of Health Services continues to monitor rabies cases within the County. Residents should report wild animals showing signs of unusual behavior to their local Animal Control Officer. Additionally, it is recommended that residents should avoid contact with wild animals and immediately report any bites from wild or domestic animals to your local health department and consult a physician as soon as possible. Finally, be sure that all family pets are up to date on their rabies vaccinations and licenses.

Rabies is caused by a virus which can infect all warm-blooded mammals, including man. The rabies virus is found in the saliva of a rabid animal and is transmitted by a bite, or possibly by contamination of an open cut. New Jersey is enzootic for raccoon and bat variants of rabies. Bats, raccoons, skunks, groundhogs, foxes, cats, and dogs represent about 95% of animals diagnosed with rabies in the United States.

Rabies Prevention Guidelines

The Middlesex County Office of Health Services is advising residents to follow these guidelines in order to prevent rabies from being transmitted to themselves or their pets:

1. Immediately report a bite from a wild or domestic animal to your local health department. Wash animal bite wounds thoroughly with soap and water as soon as possible after the bite. Contamination of open cuts or scratches with saliva of potentially rabid animals should also be washed off immediately. Consult a physician as soon as possible.

2. Immediately report any wild animal showing signs of unusual behavior.

Signs of unusual animal behavior could be that the animal may:

  • move slowly
  • may act as if it is tame
  • appear sick
  • have problems swallowing
  • have an increase of saliva
  • have increased drooling
  • act aggressive
  • have difficulty moving
  • have paralysis
  • bite at everything if excited

Residents should avoid any contact with the animal and call your local animal control officer or local police department.

3. Be sure that all family pets are up to date on their rabies vaccination. If unsure please call your veterinarian. Call your local health department for free rabies vaccination clinic availability.

4. Animal proof your home and yard. Make sure all garbage containers have tight fitting lids, do not leave pet food or water outside, do not allow rainwater to collect in outdoor containers or equipment and keep yard free of garbage and debris.

5. Do not feed or handle wild animals.

6. Avoid contact with stray animals or pets other than your own.

7. Try to prevent your pets from coming into contact with wild animals.

8. Screen off vents to attics and other areas that could provide shelter for bats.

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